On March 13, 1989, a geomagnetic storm spawned by a solar outburst struck Earth, triggering instabilities in the electric-power grid that serves much of eastern Canada and the U.S. The storm led to blackouts for more than 6 million customers and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages and economic losses.
More than 25 years later, the possibility of another such catastrophe still looms, and the day-to-day effects of space weather on electrical systems remain difficult to quantify. Now, a new study correlating electrical insurance claims with geomagnetic data suggests that even moderate space weather may play a significant role in destabilizing the power grid.
Read more about the striking correlation between solar storms and financial losses in the November issue of EARTH magazine: http://bit.ly/ZI0a2X
For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at www.earthmagazine.org.
The November issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features an update on our moon’s violent birth and turbulent infancy coming from a quartet of new research papers, an invitation to explore the incredible scenery and geology of Bali, and an interview with Sarah Anzick, a molecular biologist who sequenced DNA from infant remains found in the only-known Clovis burial site — which was discovered on her family’s Montana ranch, plus much, much more.
Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at: http://www.earthmagazine.org/ . Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.
The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 49 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.
Megan Sever | EurekAlert!
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Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
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Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
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Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
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